1. I know a new sense of belonging. The feelings of emptiness and loneliness will disappear. (The Promises, CoDA Big Book)
The first Promise of Co-Dependents Anonymous was a powerful motivator for me. When I first heard that, I took it to heart, I had nothing to lose at that point. If they were going to promise that I was going to keep coming back. I have been attending meetings, listening to shares, sharing my own story, reading literature, practicing healthy relationships, burning through spiral notebooks, and eating through pencils on my journey to sanity for a while now. I continue to struggle and am daily reminded of my codependent characteristics while also practicing the tools of healthy relationships. I will never do this stuff perfectly but being in the fellowship is a constant reminder of the support for my journey, the progress I have made and the hope for more sanity in my life. I remember where I came from, I do not want to go back. I come to hear the Steps, I come to hear the shares, I come to hear the Promises. I also come to get to know strong, beautiful, inspiring women.
The fellowship and sharing have been particularly valuable for me because I have found that feelings are far more complex and nuanced than I imagined. I really did share the Codependent trait of having difficultly identifying what I was feeling. Being sad, angry, fearful; those were easy, and I had learned them well in my youth. I also learned it was easy to blame my misery on someone else’s behavior. I was off the hook when I made it about the other person. But the pain behind those basic feelings eluded me, especially the anger and fear that would just sit with me. I had heard the phrase “if only” consistently as a child, and that my happiness was dependent on others behaving the way I needed them to, so I could be happy. I have learned a new story within the fellowship. I have learned that my happiness is my responsibility, not someone else’s. I have listened at meetings and occasionally, as I listened, it was as though a flashlight was brought into my dark cave of feelings and shone into a corner where some shocking feelings were hiding. More spiral notebooks, more pencil lead, more healing, more amends. I am amazed at times how after a meeting I will be reflecting and writing and will tap into a deep pain because of a share I heard. The fellowship, the trust, the honesty is a gift to the sharer and the listener. The gift goes both ways.
It is good to know I am not alone, it is good to know that sometimes I can hold onto someone else’s hand on my journey, let them lead me to where I might not even know I need to go. I can then connect to my Higher Power to understand, accept, grow, set boundaries, respect others, and forgive myself, all those healing steps. Yes, within the fellowship, I have found a connection to the last promise.
12. I gradually experience serenity, strength, and spiritual growth in my daily life. (The Promises, CoDA Big Book)
And I thank the CoDA Fellowship for supporting, encouraging, and inspiring me along my journey. I couldn’t do it alone.